First of all, I'm not making any final decisions for our group and we'll decide on our direction together. I agree with Amy's point that it would be nice for all of us to have a consensus and work together as much as we can. I also see her site as an extension, rather than a replacement for all of the good stuff that goes on here. In fact, that's why I posted here right at the beginning.
I have no desire to push people against their will in a direction I alone see fit. But, I do feel pretty strongly (well as strongly as I can feel about AN INSTRUCTION MANUAL that I'm thinking about volunteering on) about why I think a separate, static document would be a HUGE BOON for Joomla. Now if everyone here and at Amy's site comes to the consensus that I'm living in the past, I'm not unreasonable... although wikis aren't much in my interest or area of expertise. In any case, I think it's important that we're having this dialog, and I appreciate Chris and Amy or anyone else, your willingness to listen. That more than anything is what felt frustrating before... especially in light of that I had just spent many hours volunteering to provide documentation. I never really felt like any one person was to blame for the problem (and I never felt like a singular victim), but was a bit frustrated by the system in place and just thought it could work better. I feel like those events are past, and am optimistic that change is possible.
So let me move on and try to put this into simple terms by asking a question. Does Joomla want to appeal to designers? How about businesses, non-profits, large organizations? I'm pretty sure you do, but maybe we're just not agreeing on how to reach them.
I think you're still failing to grasp the point that the wiki is not the only end result.
No, I don't think I'm failing to grasp it. I've mentioned this in the past, but I'll say it again. The automated output you might get is not going to be great. It's never going to be either very efficient or pretty. Aesthetics are very key if you want Joomla to be appealing to non-engineer type people... which are actually the vast majority of current and potential Joomla users. I can see where you're going. But I think you're more concerned about the benefits of the software for the workflow and process then the end result. It's my opinion the end result should be given the priority over the process. I don't want to create a religion over this... but a richly formatted manually is going to be much more warm and fuzzy to people (for lack of a better term) then anything the wiki can ever be.
Wordpress and Drupal both have online docs, and IMO are better organized then Joomla's. While Joomla's wiki can improve if the time and energy is available, I do think a separate document is going to appeal to a wider audience. Part of the difference of opinion here is that I think an "old school" print style user manual, even in 2009, is the best format for documentation. It doesn't have some of the advantages that an online app can provide, but it's also more human. Open up a Joomla (or any computer) book and tell me what you see. A good guide will have several recurring themes and patterns like sidebars, images with formatted captions, rich typography that makes it easier to follow, etc. The wiki provides some of this… but not to the level possible that I imagine.
Quick typography fact: studies have proven serif fonts easier to read large amounts of information. Unfortunately, there aren't any great web friendly serif fonts. Georgia is ok, but it's a bit weighty for reading large amounts of text. So mostly you'll find arial/helvetica used online for reading material. There are fonts we could use in a PDF that are better suited both on/off screen and more attractive. Again attractiveness, lets face it, makes us feel warm and fuzzy about Joomla, and will want to keep reading.
Don’t forget that designers (I’m kind of a hybrid, but design is where my roots are) are the ones most likely to want to help with documentation because we’re not so good with PHP. But many of us, put simply, would be bored to have to conform to the staidness of the wiki. We like attractive things and nice end results. I think we will have more fun doing it in the way I have in mind than the wiki. And I think that most people who read the documentation, even if unconsciously, feel the same way. But the bottom line is… if you want help, maybe you ought to think about the need to make it desirable and fun (as it can be) to want to help
Last but not at all least, too many cooks spoil the dish. I just feel like it's a 1000 times easier to get a few minds together in an organized way then to have Joe Beginner come in and do what they want. Sure it's noble and the Joomla way (which I appreciate), but can it really work? I think 2 years later we have our answer to that.
Whew baby, that's getting long. But I think worth it to try to explain where I'm coming from. I believe everyone here is reasonable, we just all have to decide where this should go knowing that we have some different mindsets. I’m thinking the best thing to do would be to see what the majority wants to do. I’d like to present the facts including Chris’s ideas, see what people think and then take a vote. Anyone object to this? If you do, please say so.
I probably haven't addressed everything said, but I think that's enough for now! Some of your ideas about planning I agree with Chris, and whether this will turn into a wiki project or be a stubborn old PDF, I will be learning from the wiki. And if it’s going to be a PDF, certainly if someone wants to take a little time to do the re-purposing it can get fed into the wiki as well. Amy, my apologies about my big mouth, the word is now mum. I didn't realize you felt that way, but I understand where you're coming from on both counts.
I hope you're all enjoying your weekend. The suns beckoning over here... I now need to get out!